Diego Simeone’s side are a best price 10/1 (bet365 £200 free bets) to go all the way and win the final in Amsterdam although we should bear in mind that the outright market doesn’t feature the eight Champions League ‘rejects’ who drop into the competition at the last-32 stage.
There are three English teams that will be competing in the Europa League group stage, with Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham all likely to make progress to the last 32 and their campaigns begin on Thursday night.
Other teams among the favourites are Inter Milan, Anzhi Makhachkala, Napoli and Lyon, with the former being more accustomed to competing in the Champions League.
Young Boys v Liverpool 18:00
Liverpool have been drawn in Group A and it’s a tough section for the Reds considering Anzhi and Udinese also feature in this group, with the league clearly a bigger priority for Brendan Rodgers’ team.
Pool needed a late Luis Suarez goal to spare potential blushes against Hearts in the prelim stage and a win in Switzerland is far from certain, with odds of 17/10 (bet365 £200 free bets) on offer that the Merseyside club triumph.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland suggests that Liverpool are fairly solid on the road, having previously been thrashed 3-0 at West Brom, with Suarez clearly a top-class striker who is 6/1 to break the deadlock in this game.
However, Rodgers might choose to play several fringe players considering that Manchester United visit Anfield on Sunday for a match of big significance. There could be some merit in backing the home side at 2/1 (William Hill) instead.
Young Boys were third in the Swiss Super League last season and Martin Rueda’s team will consider this to be a wide open group which they can exploit to claim a place in the last 32.
Tottenham v Lazio 20:05
The Europa League is a competition that Andre Villas-Boas knows well, with the Portuguese having led FC Porto to a triumph two seasons ago and the Spurs manager will be intent on the same achievement at his new club.
AVB is still associated with the failure of a short-lived Chelsea reign although Sunday’s win at Reading suggests he is fashioning an exciting Tottenham side that could make strides in Europe this season and they have been drawn in a reasonable group.
Spurs are the 9/10 favourites (Stan James) to beat their Italian opponents and it’s a prime opportunity for Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey to enjoy first starts of the season, with the pair confined to the bench for the match at the Madejski Stadium.
Indeed, there is strength in every position for Tottenham, although they have so far failed to beat West Brom and Norwich at White Hart Lane, with Hugo Lloris likely to provide his manager with food for thought by replacing Brad Friedel between the sticks.
Lazio have enjoyed a flying start to the season thanks to wins against Atalanta, Palermo and Chievo, with Vladimir Petković’s side scoring plenty of goals and they could be overpriced at 7/2 to beat a Tottenham side that will be showing many changes.
Miroslav Klose was open to the idea of moving to Tottenham although the German has remained in Rome and could be leading the opposition attack, with odds of 7/1 about Klose scoring the first goal of this particular game.
These two teams will expect to progress at the expense of Marobor and Panathinaikos, with the draw priced at 5/2 and there is every chance the game could end all square.
Maritimo v Newcastle 18:00
The Magpies confounded all predictions last season by enjoying a spectacular Premier League campaign which saw them close to Champions League qualification, although Alan Pardew’s team were instead rewarded with a place in the Europa League.
It will be tough to balance domestic and European campaigns, with Papiss Cisse set to miss out on the trip to Portugal, although Demba Ba will be full of confidence ahead of this match. The striker came off the bench at Everton to score two goals and help his team to a valuable point.
Newcastle are the 5/2 outsiders to win this match, with Pardew likely to rest several first-team players and rely instead of fringe squad members to do the job. Shola Ameobi, Dan Gosling and Gael Bigirimana are among those likely to play.
Maritimo are a best price 7/5 to claim all three points and they finished a creditable fifth in the Primeira Liga last season, with Pedro Martins looking to make a flying start in this competition ahead of matches against Club Brugge and Bordeaux.